IPA phoneme /əʊ/

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Strict IPA
 

əʊ̯ oʊ̯

goat /gəʊ̯t, goʊ̯t/

American
Dictionaries

goat /goʊt/

British
Dictionaries

əʊ

goat /gəʊt/

In Received Pronunciation and in General American the IPA phonetic symbol /əʊ/ corresponds to the vowel sound in words like "goat", "note", and "know". The actual sound is [əʊ], [ɜʊ][1] or [əw][2] in Received Pronunciation and [oʊ] or [ow] in General American. See IPA phonetic symbol [w].

The habitual notation for General American is /oʊ/, however in a broad notation /əʊ/ can be used; it could also be the other way around, using /oʊ/ for both General American and Received Pronunciation. In this website /əʊ/ is used.

In strict IPA diphthongs need an inverted breve under their less prominent vowel: /əʊ̯/ or /oʊ̯/. However in English a single /o/ is never used; this means that in American English /oʊ/ is unambiguously a dipthong. In British English the sequence /ə.ʊ/ (most certainly) doesn't occur, and therefore /əʊ/ can only be interpreted as a diphthong. This means the inverted breve can be omitted in both conventions, British and American.

This diphthong is informally called “long O”. A better pronounceable name is the vowel of GOAT.

Common words[edit]

Some common words which practice the pronunciation of /əʊ/ include the following:

  • with "o"+magic e: alone, bone, close, code, episode, hole, home, hope, joke, lone, note, phone, role, stone, phone, pole, smoke, stole, those, vote, whole
  • with "o": almost, associate, both, don't, focus, ghost, host, local, moment, most, notice, only, open, over, program, social, total, won't
ending in "o": ago, go, no, so
with "ol": control, fold, gold, hold, old, sold, soldier, told
anomalies with "o" and a double consonant: gross, poll, roll, toll
  • with "oa": approach, boat, coach, coast, coat, goal, goat, load, loan, road, roast, throat, toast
  • with "oe": goes, heroes, Joe, potatoes, toe
  • with "ow": arrow, below, blow, borrow, bowl, crow, elbow, fellow, flow, follow, grow, grown, growth, know, low, narrow, owe, own, row (line), shadow, show, slow, snow, throw, tomorrow, tow, window, yellow
  • with "ou": although, dough, shoulder, soul, though

Homophones[edit]

  • groan - grown; hole - whole; know - no; loan - lone; pole - poll; road - rode; role - roll; so - sew - sow; sole - soul; toe - tow;

Heteronyms[edit]

  • bow: /bəʊ/ weapon - /baʊ/ inclination; dove: /dəʊv/ past tense of dive; - /dʌv/ bird; row: /rəʊ/ line - /raʊ/ quarrel;

Anticipated pronunciation difficulties depending on L1[edit]

Preconceived ideas and other interferences from L1 obviously interfere in many cases with how students perceive - and pronounce - sounds/words in English. The following sections aims to point out some of the most typical difficulties teachers and students may encounter regarding pronunciation.

Spanish[edit]

Spanish has many diphthongs with "u" and "i", and the only combinations that don't exist are "iu" [iw] and "ou" [ow].[3] The lack of [ow] explains why, even if they are fully capable of pronouncing [ow] (and hence /əʊ/) Spanish speakers tend to use the monophthong [o] which is very similar to /ɒ/, i.e. without practice, they tend not to distinguish between "not" and "note" or, even between "want" and "won't". At the end of the word they have no problems; the Spanish pronunciation for the loanword show is [tʃow].

Many Spanish speakers are confused by the spelling. Even if [ow] is present only in loan words (and compounds such as estadounidense) they immediately recognize "ou" as [ow]. For this reason many /aʊ/ words may be pronounced with [ow], such as "amount" as *[əˈmoʊnt] instead of /əˈmaʊnt/. See Decoding and spelling exercises: /əʊ/ vs /aʊ/.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. John Wells, IPA transcription systems for English, 2001-08-03.
  2. Geoff Lindsey, The British English vowel system, 8 March 2012.
  3. List of Spanish diphthongs
    • [Vj]: "ai" as in baile, "ei" as in reina, "oi" as in boina, "ui" as in cuido
    • [Vw]: "au" as in auto, "eu" as in Eugenia
    • [jV]: "ia" as in viaje, "ie" as in ciego, "io" as in piojo, "iu" as in ciudad
    • [wV]: "ua" as in cuadro, "ue" as in cuento, "ui" as in ruido, "uo" as in cuota

See also[edit]

External links[edit]